If you're reading this, I’m assuming some things about you...
For example, I assume you're curious. I assume you wear clothing and might have had some clothing-related thrills in your life. And I assume you're smart enough to get what this manifesto is saying…
Why did I say that? Just to be divisive?
No, what I’m saying is that the following text is not exactly the lightest read, but it’s also worth reading.
And so, without further ado, here is the most concise version of the concept…
The Fashionista in Danger Manifesto
When I was a little girl, I used to love playing dress-up.
Cliche start, I know, but I’m going somewhere with this; I used to build characters and stories with my mom’s clothing after digging through her closet. I would run off to school, eager to show off my creative endeavours...
The kids didn’t share my excitement. They found me “controversial” and tried to bully me into submission. There was always some “good friend” ready to explain to me that “sneakers don’t belong with a dress” 🙄.
I didn’t care.
I wore what I wanted and cried myself to sleep.
I couldn’t embrace my love for fashion the way I wanted to and at the same time, I couldn’t just let it go. Without being able to put my finger on it, I knew there was something important there. Without getting too cheesy; it felt magical...
Let’s skip ahead a few years;
I’m older and (somewhat) wiser; liking fashion is something I’ve learned to be proud of, haters be damned. I shrug off associated terms like “ditzy” and “vain” and just accept that it’ll always be my little guilty pleasure, like “Reality TV” is for some people or something...
I thought I had it all figured out, but then I watched a movie;
The Devil Wears Prada, if you haven’t seen it, is a comedy-drama starring Meryl Streep as a fashion magazine editor and Anne Hathaway as the eager-to-prove-herself new hire.
A pretty standard fun-yet-tropey Y2K flick, but, it also contains a legendary monologue. It goes something like this;
Read the script here:
Miranda Priestly: Something funny?
Andy Sachs: No, no, nothing. Y’know, it’s just that both those belts look exactly the same to me. Y’know, I’m still learning about all this stuff.
Miranda Priestly:This “stuff”? Oh, okay. I see.
You think this has nothing to do with you.
You go to your closet and you select out, oh I don’t know, that lumpy blue sweater, for instance, because you’re trying to tell the world that you take yourself too seriously to care about what you put on your back.
But what you don’t know is that that sweater is not just blue, it’s not turquoise, it’s not lapis, it’s actually cerulean. You’re also blithely unaware of the fact that in 2002, Oscar de la Renta did a collection of cerulean gowns.
And then I think it was Yves St Laurent, wasn’t it, who showed cerulean military jackets? And then cerulean quickly showed up in the collections of eight different designers.
Then it filtered down through the department stores and then trickled on down into some tragic “casual corner” where you, no doubt, fished it out of some clearance bin.
However, that blue represents millions of dollars and countless jobs and so it’s sort of comical how you think that you’ve made a choice that exempts you from the fashion industry when, in fact, you’re wearing the sweater that was selected for you by the people in this room.
From a pile of “stuff.”
When I first saw that scene, I forgot to breathe.
It was like this new train of thought went deep into my being, tossing aside layers that had been accumulated over the years and expertly flipped a switch.
That feeling that I couldn’t put my finger on before?
Finger. On. Like a domino effect, the spark went through all the previously ineffable thoughts and connected them methodically into a network of understanding.
Here’s what I understood;
I wasn’t into fashion because I was “dumb”, “shallow” or “silly”. I felt drawn to it because I sensed power; something through which to express and affect.
Because it was relatively unexplored, it lacked the social credibility that other similarly powerful topics had. That is the conflict that I had felt until that point; feeling connected to a power that the world around me didn’t understand.
Window to your Subconsciousness
Go to your closet right now and have a look;
There’s clothing that you used to wear but won't throw away, and that’s who you were.
There’s clothing that you’re not fit for yet or you're saving for specific circumstances, and that’s who you want to be (excluding clothing you haven’t dared buy yet).
Then there’s the vast and complex interplay between who you want to be and who the world is pushing you to be, and that's the clothing you wear every day.
Apart from a few contrarians that refuse to play along, this should ring a bell with most of you…
Depending on how deeply you dig into the why, you’ll get some truths about yourself. The results you get there are akin to what you might organically develop from things like introspective meditation or a good therapy session.
We spend billions on therapy and books to help us understand ourselves better yet no one thought to ask us how we feel about something we put on our bodies every.single.day.
Clothing is all around us; literally. Wearing clothes is so entwined with our evolution that it’s one of the reasons we don’t have fur like our hairy ancestors…1
Speaking of hairy ancestors; if you asked my Dad what his position in the fashion world is, he would tell you that he’s not in the fashion world.
But the thing is, just by choosing to “abstain” from fashionable choices, he is making a fashion choice. He is dressing to tell the world that he doesn’t care.
It’s inescapable, to say the least. It permeates every facet of society; influences everything from how you feel, to what others think and finds itself everywhere, from boardrooms to changing rooms.
Don’t believe me?
Well, think about it this way; clothing is all about your decisions, about how you want to represent yourself. Your expression, your strategy, your first line of defence and the last bit of armor you shred at the end of a hard day...
(the following are all below sourced)
There’s research that examines the social influence of fashion outfits; they’ve found that people develop a strong opinion about their fellow humans based on their attire in the first 3 seconds of meeting them. Plus they could discern things such as your socioeconomic status, your political leanings, sociological attitudes etc.2
Another study proved that teachers formed beliefs about children’s academic ability based on their clothing3, while several studies proved that clothes can influence your concentration4, negotiation skills5, even your hormone levels6 and heart rate.7
Did you know that lawyers often hire stylists to carefully attire their clients in regards to the jury in order to raise their odds of winning?8
You can wear clothes to raise your focus or make other people focus on you…
You know that billion dollar self-discovery industry I mentioned before?
Yeah, that’s nothing compared to the amount of money spent on drugs, shrinks, behavioural/cognitive exercises, motivational books and courses, meetings and seminars and all the other things people do to try to change the way they are...
This is all barely scratching the surface, but the point is that fashion impacts, like, a lot.
Yet rarely do people utilize this ubiquitous aspect of reality, and if they do, rarely is it used to potential. And no, I’m not just talking about wearing an oversized sweater to feel comfy.
What am I trying to say here then?
I’m saying it’s time to start taking fashion seriously;
If you think it’s silly to take it seriously, well, let me tell you; your thoughts might be less yours than you think…
Almost as if somebody has a vested interest in you not paying attention.
The misconception that fashion equals vanity is what exacerbates the public’s general lack of “serious” consideration and is part of a deftly woven tapestry of factors that allow things such as modern slavery9 to still be a big part of the fashion industry, along with actions that suffocate the Earth environmentally and propagate child labour.10
By now, if you’re not the Fashionista-type, you might be thinking, “I’ll just abstain”, but remember the story about my father? How there’s no real way to escape making “fashion choices”?
While you’ve been asleep, there’s been a war raging in the background, and the bad guys have been winning, by a lot.
Every time somebody makes the manipulated decision to choose Fast Fashion and in turn, support the horrible system behind it, the enemy is winning the war.
Whenever there’s a young person being stunted in their fashion exploration due to archaic notions of gender, there’s a budding fashionista in danger...
Every step against fashion as a form of free expression is a move against humanity. In an ideal world, men don’t have to melt in their mono-chromatic suits because of “office decorum” and women don’t have to shop in the men’s section for goddamn pockets…
You shape the world around you through your fashion choices, and mold yourself into what you want to be. It’s time to take Fashion seriously, or it will seriously fuck us up.
Some might say that a society’s relationship with fashion could be a good indicator of how developed they are on social and civil issues; after all, if you’re being forced to wear something, the rest of your day is not likely to be filled with freedom.
Here is what I'm proposing;
Fashion should not be just the indicator but rather also the gear with which we shift our development.
(This proposal is something I will return to and expand upon further in the future…) And with that proposal, I conclude this “mini”manifesto of sorts.
This Manifesto is incomplete, and will remain as such until there is no longer a need for it in the world. This entire website is an extension of this manifesto; every post is a look at the world as seen through the FiD* lense.
Collectively, it’ll become an industry watchdog and contain a plethora of pieces that highlight brutalities committed using weaponized fashion.
It’ll also be a love letter to fashion and fashionistas and an aggregator of inspiration. It’ll be a wiki-of-sorts and a call to arms; a tool for self-development and, one day, a passionate community, ready to organize and strike back against those who endanger fashion.
Prepare to join the world’s best dressed army.